Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ladybugs- Part deux

So I received an email back from the Lost Ladybug Project a few weeks ago. (see my original post here) And, unfortunately, they couldn't identify the ladybug with 100% certainty.

"The red ladybug is either a Coccinella californica, or a Coccinella novemnotata! There exist ninespotted ladybugs without spots like these, but they can only be distinguished by the look of the front of the pronotum, right near the head that is tucked under, from C. californica."

But it looks like both are native California ladybugs. So I guess all the native plants have helped attract some native predators.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - August

Thanks as always to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting GBBD.
I've got a lot blooming in the garden right now. All of these pics are from the newly installed front yard that is very occasionally hand watered, no irrigation. The hope is that next year it will just survive on it's own. Below you can see the California fuschia is in full bloom next to the black and blue sage.
Next up are some pics of a channel island snapdragon (Galvezia speciosa) that was incredibly small and just planted a few months ago. It's doing great. It's filled out and has started blooming and looks like more are on their way. They look like little puckered lips to me and are a very sexy red.

In this one you can see the channel island snapdragon and licorice plant growing into each
other. I like how the flowers poke out of the licorice plant. I can't remember the latin name for the licorice plant, but it is spreading and covering our mound with almost no water. I don't even water it once a month now and it was planted in March.

Here's a tibouchina bloom.
This salvia (can't remember the name) has been blooming since April I think. Love it's fuzzy pinkness.
Caryopteris, not my favorite plant, but it's adding a nice touch of purple to the yard in late summer.

And last but not least, Salvia apiana, or white sage. This bloom is really weird, but the plant is great. The bees supposedly love it, though it just started blooming so I'm not sure. And this is the white sage that Native Americans and now hippy liberals use(d) to burn for smudging. I dried some leaves and burned one yesterday. A very sweet smelling incense. I've also read it can be drunk as tea and used medicinally in many ways. Those experiments will come next.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Don't Do This - Vinca

So hopefully this will be the first in a series of blog posts entitled "Don't Do This," highlighting garden mistakes I see around town.

For this post, the spotlight is on vinca or periwinkle. It's a nice enough groundcover, with nice glossy foliage and pretty purple flowers. But vinca is incredibly invasive here in the Bay Area, so this is my main reason for it being on the "Don't Do This" list. It spreads and spreads and spreads. Not quite as bad as ivy, but you catch my drift.

These pics are an example of landscaping in front of Summit hospital in Oakland. They landscaped this fairly recently, maybe in the last 2-3 years. Many of the plants are drought tolerant, which is good. But then there is a border of vinca. In the pic above, you can see what they were trying to do with this planting. The vinca is supposed to form a green space between the sidewalk and the rest of the planting, and that little, black, plastic border is supposed to hold back the onslaught that is vinca.

In this next pic, you can see how they are trying to hedge the vinca to keep it behind the black border.

And in this last pic, you can see the overall effect. Not so impressive if you ask me. Now the question is, is this better than lawn?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Chinquapin - Chrysolepsis Chrysophylla

The native chinquapin (evidently a name used for plants of other genera and species) is doing it's thing in Huckleberry Preserve right now. It's called alternately giant or golden chinquapin and it's latin name is Chrysolepsis chrysophylla. It's found from central California, through Oregon and into Washington. It's generally found in shrub form in the southern part of it's range (SF bay and south) and tree form from the SF bay north. The golden scales on the undersides of leaves is one way to identify this plant.

This has got to be one of the strangest looking plants around here. It's closely related to members of the chestnut family, and in fact reminded me of being in Ticino in southern Switzerland in early fall when the chestnuts were fruiting.